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Watford appoint Tom Cleverley as interim head coach after Valerien Ismael sacked



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Watford have appointed former midfielder Tom Cleverley as interim head coach following the dismissal of Valerien Ismael.

Ismael, 48, was dismissed following Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at home to Coventry City in the Championship.

Cleverley — who was capped 13 times for England — retired from playing at the end of the 2022-23 season and has been coaching Watford’s Under-18 team this campaign.

The 34-year-old made 146 appearances across seven seasons at Watford, having previously played for Manchester United and Everton in the Premier League.

Watford have won just two of their most recent 14 matches in the division — a run stretching back to Boxing Day — and have lost six of their last eight league games.

Their run of form have left them 13 points off the promotion playoff places and just six points above the relegation zone, with nine rounds of matches remaining this season.

Ismael was appointed as Watford’s head coach in May 2023, replacing Chris Wilder, who spent just 11 matches in charge of the club having replaced Slaven Bilic in March 2023.

Ismael won 12 of his 41 matches at the helm but was unable to sustain the club’s ambitions of a push for a promotion playoff spot.

The Frenchman previously coached in the Championship at Barnsley and West Bromwich Albion, while also having stints in charge of Nurnberg, Wolfsburg and Besiktas, among others.

Watford have garnered a reputation for sacking and replacing managers. Ismael’s successor in the dugout will be the club’s 20th permanent appointment since 2012 under the Pozzo ownership and the club’s 12th head coach since the start of the 2019-20 season.

Watford return to Championship action on Saturday with an away match at Birmingham

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